I do want to do something.

The last photograph
November 16, 2007, 2:08 pm
Filed under: Beirut notes


Maybe it’s not a war on representation; it’s a war on having the conditions that would allow for representation. Being able to look through a lance, make a frame, framing your gaze, constructing a narrative, making an abstraction, pointing at something for reasons whatever or simply looking and producing “reality”. A territorial war more than a war representing territories. I was wondering about the photographer’s pictures (what was he photographing?) when Hezbollah, in their black Mercedes, stopped us in Bourj el Brajeh, in the southern suburbs of Beirut, on a very trafficked road, and asked us quite vehemently to move to the side, taking our IDs and the camera. They stopped because we had a camera, but also, and most probably because we were intruders and suspicious to it, didn’t quite fit, “western” looking Lebanese with a foreigner,  a picture that didn’t click with the suburbs and their aesthetics.

What does it mean to stop the possibility of representation?  To monopolize it if we think that representation is power in Lebanon and that the main parties are constantly propagandizing their leaders, their martyrs and their slogans by carpeting walls and billboards. Is the battle on representation a battle against time? Against the fact that an image vanishes, that the poster becomes yellow and that the paper cracks and falls? A battle against the fact that an image can’t stand still against time? Is the restless production of imagery, of a live archeology produced in relation to this? And what is the cost of this production? If the flower’s on Rafik Hariri’s and his bodyguard’s tombs must always be white and must be changed each two days, how costly is it to keep representation from fading, and how does this effort affect the people and the public? The bigger the efforts and the  battle, the bigger the gaps and the cracks. Is having the complete monopoly the closest thing to collapsing? Is the strive for monopoly and its overwhelming production of imagery a maddening phenomenon or a strategic calculation of visual production? Or both. What probably the warriors controlling representation do not know (the cancelled all the pictures we had taken) is that the production of images is digitalized, and photos retrievable.

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